In English football, which club has the fourth highest total of major honors? What would your answer be? Most would assume Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal to take the top three positions and they would be correct. But who has the fourth highest? Chelsea? The Blues have picked up the majority of their trophy haul in recent years. How about Manchester City? Despite their recent surge, City have only had brief times of sustained success.
The club with the fourth highest total is Aston Villa. Aside from being one of the founding members of the Premier League, the Villans have won seven First Division Championships, seven FA Cups, and they are one of only five English teams to win the European Cup (1981-82). Of course, the majority of these titles were won under leadership of George Ramsey from 1884-1926. So Villa’s history is easily dismissed by some supporters.
When Aston Villa is mentioned to followers of the Premier League, more than likely the first thought is of a club with mid-table qualities who has dangled dangerously close to relegation the past few seasons. A club who’s success is attributed to the health and form of their young Belgian striker, Christian Benteke.
Unless they are playing one of the “bigger” English clubs, Villa’s results are an afterthought. During a recent exchange on an open thread, I commented on my disappointment in the match between Hull City and Aston Villa. The match ended in a dull 0-0 draw. Another person replied, “You should have known better than expect excitement from that match.”
Well just a few seasons ago, during a three year span from 2007-2010, Aston Villa consistently finished in sixth place in the Premier League. In 2009-10, the Villans were only six points behind the final Champions League spot. And in 2007-08, they missed out on a UEFA Cup position on the final day of the season.
Of course, you’re only as good as your last game. And the past few years, Aston Villa have been too close to the relegation zone for their supporters’ likings.
The success from 2007-10 was largely due to the efforts of former manager, Martin O’Neill. But O’Neill resigned from his position in August 2010 over a dispute with the club regarding transfer funds. The timing was particularly poor for Aston Villa with the season just around the corner. Gérard Houllier was hired but only lasted one season and the club dropped to ninth in the league.